Page 11, It's time to reconsider corporal punishment

Opinions: Column by Doug Wojcieszak, 03/29/94

Have you heard about that fellow who's gonna get flogged in Singapore?

Some guy from Dayton, Ohio, who has been living in Singapore with his 
parents, decided to have a little fun by spraypainting a bunch of cars. 
The locals took exception to his freelance art.

They put him on trial, convicted him, and now this 18-year-old will 
receive six lashes with a cane, as well as four months in jail.

Check this out

Caning goes back to British colonial days. Now, as then, the unfortunate 
soul is brought to a public place, tied to a table and stroked with a wet
cane by a martial arts expert.

Most people pass out after the second stroke. The procedure is halted 
until the prisoner regains consciousness, and then the fun resumes.

U.S. diplomats have been trying to get the Singapore officials to ease up,
but no soap.

Two years ago Singapore went against the wishes of the Pope and the 
international community by preceding with the hanging of two Australian 
drug traffickers. I think it's safe to assume that the U.S. State 
Department won't get this little snot off the hook.

There are a lot of bleeding hearts out there who say Singapore is too 
harsh. But when you look at Singapore's low crime rate, you have to wonder
if they are on to something.

Caning in the U.S.?

Crime is on the minds of most Americans. We want to deter it, but 
mandatory sentencing and building more jails is hardly the answer.

With cable television, weight rooms and gangs, prisons are not too bad a 
place for the criminal element. All they need is a mint on their pillows.

But let's see how they would appreciate being whipped like dogs in a 
public place.

Before people get all bent out of shape, I need to clarify by saying that
I only advocate caning for serious crimes and only when deterrence and 
rehabilitation are achievable.

I don't want to publicly whip every kid who robs a gumball machine, nor am
I interested in hardened career criminals. I just want the young violent 
offenders--the punks who push drugs and mug little old ladies.

I want them flailed on the courthouse steps. And then, after they recover
from their spanking, I want them sent up the river, but no cable TV or 
pizzas. Their time behind bars should be spent learning a skill.

It's time to send a strong message to would--be criminals: antisocial 
behavior will no longer be tolerated.

I'm willing to bet crime would go down. And I'm also willing to bet that 
the bleeding hearts will still cry foul.

The real problem

Some of the folks who speak out against physical punishment do so because
of the Constitution's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

There's nothing wrong with this; we have to be very careful when 
considering floggings and any other form of public punishment, lest we 
become criminals ourselves.

But there are other people who oppose caning strictly because of today's 
feel-good, politically correct environment. These are the bleeding hearts.
And they support an agenda that does not want to see people held 
accountable for their actions.

These folks take a dim view of any physical discipline, including 
spankings and paddling in schools. And, unfortunately, they've had a great
deal of success pushing their viewpoint.

Doing an injustice

Is there any truth to the old proverb, "Spare the rod and spoil the 
child?" Just ask a convict.

Many a prisoner will confess that if somebody (the state or parents) had 
kicked their butt when they were young and just getting into trouble, they
would be a different person.

For proper development, young people need structure and stability. Most 
often this means positive reinforcement. But sometimes with certain 
people, you need to catch their attention, fast. And there's no better way
than a good smack.

The bleeding hearts equate this with abuse. What a lousy correlation.

Abuse is rooted in anger and hate, whereas discipline administered by 
parents (and the state) is a product of love, tough love. There's a fine 
line between the two, but somehow we've forgotten that, and the 
consequences are obvious.

How obvious? Just ask a veteran school teacher or a police officer. Kids 
today are much more likely to backtalk, smart off and do bold and stupid 
things because they know they won't be touched. Some things have got to 
Cracking down

Parents and school teachers should be able to properly discipline young 
people without the fear of being hauled into court. And if they won't 
discipline, then the state should have the ability to give someone a good

And we need not feel any remorse about lowering the boom. Because which is
crueler: smacking someone on the wrist, or letting them screw up their 

By using all proper forms of discipline (spankings included), most 
antisocial behavior can be arrested in the home. If, however, the home 
environment fails a young person, then the state owes it to that 
individual (and to society) to correct the situation, painful as it might

Daily Illini Online -- UIUC -- 1994/March/29

Copyright (c) 1994 Illini Media Company, all rights reserved.